Tributes to Susan Niebur and Rachel Moro, Bloggers Lost to Breast Cancer

BlogHer Original Post

On Monday, the blogging community lost two women to breast cancer: Susan Niebur, aka @WhyMommy of Toddler Planet and Rachel Cheetham Moro of The Cancer Culture Chronicles.

Susan was a planetary scientist who worked at NASA and promoted women in planetary science. After being diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer in 2007, she worked to educate people about IBC, which does not present with a lump. She fought fiercely to keep our focus on research and funding for a cure, including obtaining lymphedema sleeves for women who needed them and writing compellingly about the impact of a Facebook meme meant to "raise awareness." She read the post as part of the Voices of the Year at BlogHer '10; you can watch the video here.

Rachel was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004. She became an advocate for research and awareness through The Cancer Culture Chronicles, a blog with some 100,000 readers and the tagline: "It's time to move beyond pink ribbons and messages of 'breast cancer awareness,' and start agitating for real and meaningful action in the fight to eradicate this disease for good." She provided her readers tool kits, moving accounts of her life facing cancer, and guest posts like this one by CJ (Dian) Corneliussen-James, who talked about how research projects involving Stage IV cancers only receives 2% of all national funding for metastatic breast cancer.

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Remembering Susan Niebur

Julie Pippert at The Artful Flower wrote "We Are Unfair to Grief."

Susan -- bright star always, lady of planetary science, answerer of why, belly laugher, sensitive understanding heart, tremendous warrior advocate, bringer of greater good, feet on the ground, 200 watt mind…"

Liz Gumbinner at Mom 101 wrote "For Susan," on telling her daughter Thalia why she was sad.

"She was so smart too. She was a scientist. Like you could be one day. And she taught me a lot about cancer and made me think about helping women who have it in new ways."

My voice cracked when I added, "And she was a mommy, just like me."

Morra Aarons-Mele wrote "Susan Neibur, Stargazer, Fighter and Friend" at before Susan passed away, and the editors left her thoughts in the present tense.

Susan puts herself out there as a cancer fighter and a patient; she shows the vulnerability of illness, but no diminution in her ability to be taken seriously as a writer, professional, mentor, mother, wife, person and general badass spirit. No one pities her, coddles her, or humors her but many thousands support her. She is truly herself and she is truly magnificent.

BlogHer Editor in Chief Stacy Morrison at Filling in the Blanks wrote "The Losses That Echo, The Losses We Share."

Susan had an incredible knack for seeing beyond herself, and taking in the big picture. She would turn her own personal struggle into meditations on life and compassion and community and what this journey is all supposed to mean. She faced her death with a rare grace, which is what kept me coming back to her posts. Seeing that it is possible for someone to die with wisdom and love in the forefront of her mind has soothed the wounds I carry because of my parents' twin deaths of disconnection, denial and fear.

Karen wrote "Goodbye Whymommy" on BlogHer.

She was just an internet friend. As if you can minimalize being an online friend.

Shannon McKarney wrote "One Blogger, Thousands of Tears" on

Susan's blog suddenly wasn't just a blog: It was a chronicle of struggle, of hope, and of precious life, a life that became increasingly obvious was going to be too short.


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